Zambia’s Labour Day celebrations ended earlier than usual after President Michael Sata cut short the ceremony, forbidding speeches.
President Sata, 76, only allowed award presentation before departing the Freedom Statue in the capital Lusaka.
“Today, there will be no speeches,” said President Sata, known for unpredictable quips and stunts in public.
“Let’s go back and reflect and all employers should go back and look after their workers. They don’t need to strike to ask for more pay.
‘‘Just imagine it was you who had nothing to eat. These are instructions, Mr Shamenda, you must make sure workers get a better pay,” Mr Sata said, referring to Labour and Social Security Minister Fackson Shamenda.
‘‘Wage freeze is only for government, we have not stopped any employer from increasing the pay for workers,’’ he said.
President Sata’s government recently increased salaries for civil servants but later adopted a one-year wage freeze.
He asked the defence forces to sing the national anthem before he departed, leaving the crowd of workers astonished as they watched his motorcade speed off.
The celebration continued for a few minutes before people started dispersing in freestyle.
The live broadcast of the ceremony by the state broadcaster also stopped after the president left the grounds.
In December, President Sata told International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder that the organisation was no longer important, bemoaning its lack of impact in reducing unemployment levels in the country and the Sub-Saharan region in general.
His government is still grappling with huge youth unemployment.
Young voters propelled Sata’s Patriotic Front to power in the 2011 election, which saw him end the 20-year rule of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
President Sata’s government, commentators say, has also developed the propensity for borrowing, sparking fears the country may get trapped in debt.
The septuagenarian leader recently reshuffled his Cabinet and fired a deputy minister accused of disloyalty to the Patriotic Front.
Workers’ day holds in Abuja amid tight security •Nigeria is not poor —Jonathan
The day was marked amid water-tight security, with all the routes leading to the Federal Secretariat blocked by the security operatives, few metres to the Eagle Square, venue of the event.
Combined security operatives, including detachment of police, combat-ready military personnel, State Security Service (SSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), flooded the secretariat.
At the two main entrances into the Eagle Square, people were frisked and female with handbags also searched by the security operatives before being allowed into the venue.
Despite the heavy presence of security, the atmosphere at the Eagle Square was convivial.
Workers appeared in different uniforms indicative of various staff unions or branches of the labour unions to which they belonged.
While march-pass was going on and speeches delivered at the Eagle Square, it was a rollicking moment for some other workers, who took solace in tents erected by alcohol vendors adjacent to Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ edifice.
Sellers of memorabilia bearing Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) badge made brisk business. Some of the memorabilia include caps, T-shirts, short-sleeves shirts and many other items with labour insignia.
Itinerant traders with assorted fabrics and clothing materials had a field day too, as many of them had patronage because of a lower prices.
However, an angry group, appearing in black T-shirts was seen walking into the Eagle Square. The group wore a mournful look as opposed to the roller-coaster exhibited by others.
The group, which was later identified as Women Environmental Programme (WEP), said it had a cause to be unhappy with the recent abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok and bombings in some part of the country.
Bring back our girls’ rallies across the country The traditional May Day rallies were overshadowed by the “Bring back our girls” rallies held all over the country on Thursday.
In Borno State, where about 234 schoolgirls were abducted, the workers and civil liberty organisations alongside other interest groups staged a peaceful procession in Maiduguri.
The protesters, who all wore black, were led by the state chairman of NLC, Comrade Titus Ali Abana, in the march from the NLC secretariat to the Maiduguri Government House, where they registered their displeasure that the girls were yet to be rescued.
Nigerian is not poor —Jonathan President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, faulted the World Bank report which placed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, saying “the nation is not poor.’’
Addressing workers at the May Day rally held at the Eagle Square, the president said “the challenge of the country is not poverty, but redistribution of wealth.’’
He said the realities on the ground did not portray the country as a poor nation, but “a nation with abundant wealth, needed to be redistributed.”
The president added that his administration was working assiduously and putting policies in place to ensure that Nigerians had access to financial resources to create wealth for themselves.
“Nigeria is not a poor country. Nigerians are the most travelled people. There is no country you go that you will not see Nigerians. The GDP of Nigeria is over half a trillion dollars and the economy is growing at close to seven per cent.’’
“Aliko Dangote was recently classified among the 25 richest people in the World.
“I visited Kenya recently on a state visit and there was a programme for Nigerian and Kenyan businessmen to interact and the number of private jets that landed in Nairobi that day was a subject of discussion in Kenyan media for over a week.
“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.
“But the World Bank statistics shows that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries. Our problem is not poverty, our problem is redistribution of wealth,” he said.
Jonathan assured that with the support of Nigerians and, in particular, the organised labour, the nation would overcome its challenges and take its pride of place in the globe.
The President also reiterated that the ongoing national conference was not personal, but meant to evolve a roadmap that would redefine Nigeria.
He said he had no personal agenda for initiating the conference, but for the common good and progress of the country.
New minimum wage negotiations to begin next year —NLC
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and its affiliate organisations, on Thursday, disclosed that negotiations for new minimum wage for workers, will begin next year.
Its Vice President, Issa Aremu, disclosed this during a television programme, adding that the negotiations would be following a stipulation that the country’s minimum wage be reviewed every five years.
He, however, did not mention the amount that organised labour would peg the minimum wage.
The current minimum wage is N18,000.
Many state governors complained about paying it.
NLC said it was insufficient to meet the workers’ needs.
“By next year, we will be back to the negotiating table for a new minimum wage since the law says it should be reviewed every five years,” Aremu said.
He said Thursday’s May Day was the 34th to be celebrated in Nigeria and that the NLC would use the opportunity to call for the strengthening of the country’s labour reforms.
“The primary responsibility of a government is security of lives and property,” he noted, adding that Nigeria, which had been known for peace, was now increasingly being known for serial violence and preventable attacks.
NLC tasks Nigerians on peace for sustainable development
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Thursday, urged Nigerians to embrace peace and unity as critical tools for national development. Mr Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC President, made the call during the celebration of this year’s Workers’ Day in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the theme for the event is: “Building enduring peace and Unity.’’
Omar said peace and unity were vital for the survival of many nations, adding that Nigerians must be rightly concerned about enduring peace.
“The challenges of insecurity had continued to threaten peace and unity in the country, yet without enduring peace, our nation cannot truly develop on a sustainable base.
“In the past few years, the nation has witnessed unprecedented security challenges that have tasked our imaginations, resources and temperament.
“From the Niger Delta to the northern part of the country, we have had one form of violence or the other that threatened the peace and security of the country.’’
He described the insurgency in the North-East, with the kidnap of more than 200 female students at Chibok in Borno, as the most threatening.
“Our hearts bleed as we await their safety and release,’’ Omar said.
According to him, anytime a bomb goes off or people hear the sound of a gun, “the humanity in us dies.’’
He expressed fear over the insurgency as people were losing their humanity, saying “we might even lose the entire nation if something drastic is not done.’’
NLC berates SUBEB over crisis in Kogi primary schools
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Kogi State chapter, has disclosed that the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) is frustrating genuine efforts by the state government to change the fortunes of basic education in the state through bureaucratic bottlenecks.
It appealed to the state governor, Captain Idris Wada, to rescue the primary school teachers from the maladministration of the SUBEB management who is owing the primary school teachers three months salary
The state chairman of NLC, James Odaudu, stated these while addressing workers at 2014 May Day celebration, adding that with what was going on in the state primary school, teachers were at the receiving end.
While commending the commitment of the state governor, Captain Wada, in restructuring the basic education infrastructure in the state, he called on him to put all machineries in place for the implementation of the 100 per cent minimum wage for the primary school teachers in keeping with the agreement entered into with the union in 2013 without further delay.
The primary school teachers, who wore black T shirts and carrying placards with different inscriptions, called on the state government to honour its promises.
The governor,Captain Wada, who was represented by the Head of Service, Dr Moses Atakpa, felicitated with workers and commended them for the unflinching support they had given to his administration in the past.
He however pledged to look into the various issues raised by the workers.
Amosun promises 1,000 housing units, car loans for Ogun workers
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has promised to deliver 1,000 housing units solely for civil servants.
The governor has also resuscitated car and housing loans to workers in the civil service, which he described as the engine room of any government..
Amosun disclosed this on Thursday, while speaking at the Workers’ Day celebration held at the M.K.O. Abiola International Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta and said 200 units of the houses would be ready by May 29 with another 500 in December while the others would be delivered later.
The governor said his administration was committed to prompt payment of workers salaries, training and retraining of its workforce, noting that “In the last 35 months of our administration, we have been unwavering in the discharge of our duty to better the lot of our workers.”
“We have consistently taken the issue of the on-the-job training of our workforce seriously.
“Our administration believes that a well-trained and retrained civil service will increase productivity and raise our administrative competence. Across all cadre and levels of the public service, we have continued to make funds available for this purpose.
“Be that as it may, I must say that I am particularly happy that the era of non-payment of salaries, leave bonus and pension arrears have become a thing of the past in the Ogun State Public Service.”
NLC, TUC laud Bayelsa govt •As Dickson urges workers to shun political jobbers
AS workers in Bayelsa State join the rest of the world to celebrate Workers Day across the nation, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have used the opportunity to applaud the achievements of government, as well as itemise challenges confronting labour organisations in the state.
Speaking at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, the state chairman of NLC, Mrs Ebiowou Koku Obiyai , who lauded government for the implementation of the 18,000 minimum wage arrears for civil servants, urged government to fulfill its promise on a standing order of N250 million to assuage gratuity and pension to retirees.
Obiyai called on government to expedite work on the building of a new befitting secretariat for government printing press and RATTAWU, release approved vehicles to Niger Delta Television, as well as introduce life insurance scheme to protect workers from environmental hazard.
She praised government for the declaration of emergency in the education sector, payment of WAEC fees, provision of school uniforms among other learning aids; while also reiterating the need for the recruitment of teachers in both primary and post-primary schools, as well as training and re-training of teachers.
The state NLC boss emphasised the need for government to reduce duty post allowances for principals and headmasters to spur them towards high productivity, just as it called on government to re-open the pubic training institute to facilitate training and re-training of its workforce.
Obiyai called for the implementation of para-military salary structure approved by the national income, salaries and wages commission for the state fire service, even as she called for the payment of outstanding three months salaries owed workers of the state environmental sanitation authority.
Use peaceful means to resolve issues with govt —Al-Makura •Inaugurates 300 housing units for civil servants in Nasarawa
NASARAWA State governor, UmaruTanko Al-Makura, on Thursday, called on Labour unions to always use peaceful means to resolve issues with the state government by showing understanding and support to the set objectives of his administration.
This, according to him, would go a long way in facilitating effective and efficient service delivery in the state.
He gave this advice while delivering his speech during the celebration of this year’s Workers’ Day, held at the Main-bowl of the College of Agriculture, Lafia, the state capital.
“I need to draw our attention to the importance of sustainable cordial relationship between government and labour unions for the achievement of industrial harmony in the state. It is my belief that without understanding between government and Labour, our objective of improving the living conditions of our people will remain a mirage,”he enlightened.
He stated that the state government would continue to maintain its labour-friendly posture, revealing that he has since directed the office of the head of civil service and other government agencies to carry out immediate implementation of all outstanding promotions and annual increment for all deserving workers in the state.
Meanwhile, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, on Thursday, inaugurated 300 out of the 500 housing units completed and ready for habitation for civil servants in the state, with a charge on the deserving beneficiaries to cultivate the maintenance culture towards ensuring the durability of the structures and facilities.
While inaugurating the project in Lafia, the state capital, the governor said the gesture intended to reduce the plight of workers who were constantly exposed to the ever-increasing house rents in the state.
He explained that the government, in five years ago, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Messrs Chipa Nigeria Limited under a Public-Private Partnership arrangement to construct 500 Housing Units for Civil Servants which suffered a setback before his assumption in office.
Al-Makura said it was for that reason, that the sum of Two hundred and thirty-seven million naira was released for the provision of infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity in the estate.
Minister advises workers to support FG
The minister of State for Power, Honourable Mohammed Wakil, has appealed to Nigerian workers to continue to support the transformation agenda of the Federal Government, which he described as the path to Nigeria’s greatness.
In a May Day message issued in Abuja, the minister said reforms that were ongoing in major sectors of the economy were designed to place Nigeria on the path of sustainable development under which workers and other Nigerians would continue to enjoy collective prosperity.
“I felicitate with Nigerian workers today and I identify with the working class as the engine of national growth and development. At this crucial stage of our national life, I urge us all to rally round the transformation agenda under which Nigeria has emerged as the biggest economy on the African continent.
“ The economic growth that reaches and benefits all sections of the society is the main preoccupation and ultimate goal of Mr President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. I urge us all to remain focused on national peace, unity and patriotism as the nation tackles myriad of challenges to sustain good governance in the country,” the minister noted.
Deputy speaker commends workers for Ekiti development •As workers warn against violence
Deputy Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Chief Adetunji Orisalade, has commended workers in the state for their “immense contributions to the development and transformation of the state.”
Orisalade, in a statement made available to newsmen in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, congratulated the workers for this year’s May Day celebration, describing them as “important stakeholders and back bones of any successful government.” He praised them for their contributions to the successes recorded by the Governor Kayode Fayemi’s administration in the state.
In the statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Taiwo Oluwaleye, and made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, to commemorate the day, Orisalade lauded Labour unions in the state “for always maintaining industrial peace which has boosted their productivity and encouraged them to continue in that light.”
Meanwhile, workers in Ekiti State, on Thursday, warned politicians in the state against “turning Ekiti into a battlefield” as they prepare for the June 21 governorship election in the state.
At a rally they tagged: “Centenary May Day” in Ado Ekiti, chairmen of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayodeji Aluko, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Mr Kolawole Olaiya, charged politicians not to shed the blood of innocent citizens in the name of politics.
Staff biometric exercise not to inflict hardship on workers – Niger govt
The Niger State Government, on Thursday, told its workforce, especially those in the employment of the local governments, that the ongoing staff verification and biometric exercise was not designed to inflict hardship on them but to sanitise the entire service.
The state governor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, gave the assurance at this year’s Workers Day celebration held at the old 123 Battalion field in Minna, the state capital.
Aliyu, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Musa Ibeto, said government was aware of the hardship some of the workers were facing as a result of the verification exercise but said that at the end of the entire programme, the government would have succeeded in ‘eradicating the ghost workers’ syndrome from the service in the state.
“Let me reassure you that the verification exercise and other policies of government are not meant to bring hardship to workers but to position us to render better services to the people.”
Governor Aliyu, who unfolded welfare packages for the workers, said government was kicking off a civil servant car ownership scheme in the next two weeks with 1,000 vehicles to be allocated to all category of workers at subsidised rates.
In addition, the governor assured the workforce in the state of regular payment of their salaries and allowances, adding that government, despite its dwindling resources, would keep faith with the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage.
“We note, however, that workers’ welfare is not limited to salaries alone but to those policies and conditions that will enhance the personal and professional development of individual workers,” the governor said, adding that government had ensured that the reforms it introduced in the service were recording modest achievements.
On the theme of the celebration which is ‘Building Enduring Peace and Unity, Panacea for Sustainable Development’ Governor Aliyu urged the people of the state to be more security conscious by ‘paying attention to whatever is happening around our environment’.
‘This is not the time to take anything for granted so report any suspicious situation or individuals promptly to the security agencies or appropriate authorities’.
Governor Aliyu commended workers in the state for showing consistent dedication commitment and resilience toward uninterrupted delivery of essential services to the people of Niger state over the past years especially in the out gone 2013.
‘We are are aware that despite the difficulties that some of you face in the day-to- day discharge of your duties you have been able to keep our offices hospitals schools and other essential services functional’.
State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Yahaya Idris Ndako in an address commended the government for being workers friendly especially in the regular payment of salaries and other allowances.
Comrade Ndako however asked the government to investigate cases of illegal deduction from the salaries of workers in tertiary institutions in the state and alleged nonpayment of workers in the Shiroro hotel.
The NLC boss also asked the government to sustain its efforts in the protection of lives and property maintaining that without peace there can be no development.
The ceremony also witnessed the traditional march past by members of unions affiliated to the Nigeria Labour Congress.
Yuguda laments high wage bill
Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, on Thursday, lamented that the state’s wage bill was taking the lager percentage of its monthly statutory allocation, calling on civil servants in the state to show understanding and make necessary sacrifices.
Speaking at this year’s Workers’ Day celebration at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi, Governor Yuguda stated that the situation was a nationwide phenomenon, which was not peculiar to Bauchi State alone, attributing the development to the dwindling resources accruable to the federation accounts.
Yuguda, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Sagir Aminu Saleh, stated that despite the current challenges, the state government did not reduce its workforce unlike what was happening in some states which had downsized their workforce, while others were unable to pay salaries as at when due.
Meanwhile, the Bauchi State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has decried the growing spate of insurgency and other forms of insecurity, including kidnapping, armed robbery, among others in the country, urging the Federal Government to urgently address the state of insecurity in the North-East geopolitical zone.
Osun workers hold parallel rallies
There was confusion in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, on Thursday, as workers in the state held rallies to commemorate the 2014 Workers’ Day in two different locations.
While one rally was held at the Government Technical College, Osogbo, the other one took place at the popular Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, also in Osogbo.
The Nigerian Tribune authoritatively gathered that the seeming factional crisis rocking the state chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) was said to be responsible for the development, as workers in the state had been polarised, following leadership crisis rocking the Labour union.
Investigation conducted by the Nigerian Tribune indicated that workers, who converged on the Technical College, Osogbo, were led by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Saka Adesiyan and the factional chairman of the TUC, Mr Francis Adetunji, while those at the Freedom Park were led by Mr Akinyemi Olatunji, also a factional chairman of the TUC.
Majority of the workers in the state, including artisans, were present at the rally held at the Government Technical College, where the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, addressed the workers, while those at the Freedom park were populated by senior civil servants.
At the rally held at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, the state governor, Mr Aregbesola, was represented by the state Commissioner for Human Capacity, Miss Mobolaji Akande.
Addressing workers at the rally, the governor assured workers of the commitment of his government to their welfare, promising that government would not neglect the workers in the scheme of things.
Akwa Ibom to enact law for workers’ contributory pension scheme
Akwa Ibom State Government is to put in motion a machinery for the enactment of law to cater for a contributory pension scheme for civil servants in the state.
Governor Godswill Akpabio, who announced this on Thursday during the celebration of the 2014 Workers’ Day celebration at Uyo Sports Stadium, said he would inform the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to draft and send the law to the state House of Assembly for deliberation and approval.
Akpabio noted: “I am proud of the cordial relationship existing between our administration and the workers. Your narrative has been that I am the most worker-friendly governor in our country. But what did you expect when you elected a worker as a governor? This has been a government of workers, for workers and by workers.”
According to him, “The age-long tradition of the celebration of the Workers’ Day is an acknowledgement of the achievements and accomplishments of workers. These achievements and accomplishments would not have been possible without a strong sense of solidarity. As a worker, I believe that solidarity is thicker than politics.
Unyime Usoro, the chairperson of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Akwa Ibom Council, applauded the cordial relationship between the labour unions and the state government, implementation of 27.5 per cent Teachers’ Salary Scale (TSS), payment of N21,000 minimum wage to workers, 100 per cent car allowances to civil servants and employment of 10,000 civil servants, among others.
I am, therefore, not surprised that, as the governor of our dear state, I have enjoyed your solidarity and have succeeded because of your solidarity.”
Enugu workers call for upward review of salaries
WORKERS of Enugu State have called for the upward review of their salaries, saying the current salary chart issued by the state government showed that they were not just poorly paid but had a lot of anomalies that do not conform with Public Service Salary Chart.
In separate addresses read by the state chairmen of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe and Chumaife Nze respectively, at May Day rally held at Okpara Square, Enugu, on Thursday, they noted that “the present salaries of Enugu workers were meaningless, stressing that, “a situation where a civil servant receives less than N1, 500.00 and N1, 000.00 as monthly rent subsidy and transport allowance respectively does not in any way relate to the present economy.”
“We are aware that the minimum rent for one room apartment in Enugu urban area is N5,000.00 while a three- bedroom apartment ranges from N20,000.00 to N30,000.00 PER MONTH. Also given the present cost of transportation, workers spend a minimum of N200.00 per day to get to their place of work.. Also, a worker still has to meet his/her utility bills,” they added.
The workers also appealed to Governor Sullivan Chime to look into the case of workers of ENADEP and Sports Council, who before their absorption into the ministries, were owed over 36 months salaries, adding that, “the staff of Star Printing and Publishing Corporation who are still earning 60 per cent of their salaries for over three years now as their subvention was not adequate.
( Courtesy Daily Nation & Tribune …… Source …….. Our Freelance Contributor in Abuja)